Happy Thanksgiving, my American friends!

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday with all the trimmings!

How many of you know how Thanksgiving became a holiday? You owe it all to a determined woman named Sarah Hale. If you pick up Mike Allegra’s book, Sarah Gives Thanks, you and your children can learn all about how Sarah “dedicated her life to making Thanksgiving a national holiday, all while raising a family and becoming a groundbreaking writer and women’s magazine editor.”

It’s available on Amazon. Aren’t the pictures lovely? They were done by David Gardner. To get your copy, click on the picture. To read Mike’s interview of his illustrator, head over to heylookawriterfellow and, again, I wish you all a . . .

Happy Thanksgiving!


Crafty Wednesday – Blue Christmas

Today, I have a couple of very different cards, which both have a blue base or background. I used my D’vine Swirls embossing plate for the first card and Polka Dots for the second, running them through my Cuttlebug. Although the D’vine Swirls plate is the one that came with my machine, I think it’s the one embossing plate that I use the most, especially with winter-themed cards because it looks like swirling snow. The Polka Dots plate looks like snowflakes, so I use it fairly often at this time of year, too.

poopy polar bears

With this first card, I was experimenting with the packet of Mr. Ellie Pooh’s Elephant Dung Paper I got at the Zoo a couple of summers ago. Each sheet of paper was heart shaped so I was mostly using it for wedding, anniversary and Valentine’s Day cards. However, a blogging friend encouraged me to think outside the box, so I did. Along with the pink poop hearts, there were some sheets that were a cream or off-white colour, which leant themselves to other ideas. Above, the tree was stamped on the cream-colored paper. The polar bears were stamp-embossed on the off-white. The paper is not completely smooth and the texture works really well as fur. You will notice that I added a bit of sparkle to the tree and painted the sweater & scarf with my shiny paints. After adding a piece of sparkly ribbon to one edge and cutting out the sentiment to look like a cloud, the front was done. It might be hard to notice, but I also stamp-embossed snowflakes onto the sentiment ‘cloud’. In case any of you were wondering, the tree is from a stamp set by Stampin’ Up called Christmas Lodge and the polar bears and sentiments were from a Close To My Heart stamp set called Polar Bear Holiday.

poopy polar bears inside

The inside, above, shows another of the bears from the CTMH set, along with the sentiment & presents. Again, I used the poop paper for the bear and added the colour with my shiny paints. There is also a splash of sparkle in the way of stamp-embossed snowflakes on either side of the sentiment, which was cut out using a 2″ circle punch.

blue snowman

This card is my favourite. Not only do I love the cute snowman (Decorating Snowman by Inky Antics), who looks very festive in his shiny blue coat, but also because of the surprise on the inside. I stamp-embossed his outline, then filled him in with my shiny paints. I cut him out and placed him on white card stock with red card stock (cut 1/2″ taller & 1/2″ wider than the white) behind it. I stamp-embossed the sentiment on white card stock and placed it on red, cutting it so that 1/4″ showed on all edges. To the sentiment, I added a red ribbon bow, attaching it with a silver brad and paper snowflake before placing it on the card with 3D squares.

blue snowman inside

Honey POP (by Inky Antics) honeycomb paper is so much fun, because it flares out when you open the card and it’s not all that difficult to do. Last year, I made Christmas trees with the plain green Honey POP. This year, I found Peppermint Strip, a red & white honeycomb paper, which could also be used to make candy canes. For the inside of this card, I stamp-embossed the snowman image directly onto the card, lining him up with where I wanted the ornament to go. I also stamped the ornament hanger and assorted ornaments onto the card, then painted everything. The sentiment was done in a similar manner to that on the front of the card, but I added small ornaments cut out of sparkly paper with a mini Sizzix die-cutter & my Cuttlebug to embellish the sentiment.

Well, that’s it for this week. I’m off to do more crafting as there’s only 4 more weeks until Christmas & I’m only halfway through all the cards I need to make! Hope you’re all having a great day. 🙂

Crafty Wednesday – getting ready for the Christmas post

As you may already know, I married into a huge family and have a lot of friends, which means I have many cards to create, each year, including cards for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc. With Christmas just over a month away, I have to make sure I have prepared enough cards and completed in time to be posted and delivered before Christmas Day.

A while back, I showed you the cards I made during a Creative Gathering event and also the painted silk card elements I have prepared for future cards. To date, I have made 26 cards, including the ones I made last weekend, when I completed 10 that were part of the Close To My Heart Frosted card-making kit.

In the kit, one receives paper & card stock, a stamp set, embellishments, & an instruction booklet.

Frosted instructions&stamps

I love the Close To My Heart kits because the instructions are very detailed, from the best way to cut out all the pieces . . .

Frosted cutting diagrams

. . . to the layout.

Frosted getting started

While I liked the different layouts, I didn’t love them, so I changed things up a bit to better accommodate my personal tastes.

Card 1 demo

Card 1 demo

The first set of 5 cards (above) required the use of a green paper, stamped with the border stamp that came with the enclosed stamp set. I am not very good at stamping over and over, so thought it would be easier to emboss the pieces with my Cuttlebug. I also did not particularly like the green, so switched it up with some dark teal card stock I had on hand. Also, the stamps were supposed to be in an ink colour I did not have, so I used my Versa Mark sticky pad and blue embossing powder, instead.

my version of card 1

my version of card 1

For the next set of cards, I pretty much followed the directions . . . .

Frosted card3demo

. . . but, for some reason, ran out of the brown craft paper, so substituted a different paper for a couple of the cards. Again, I did not have the right ink colour for the background snowflake pattern, so I used a silver ink pad. Here are the two variations:

Frosted card 3

 The last set of 5 cards that I made used wide strips of coloured paper.

card 2 demo

The red bit seemed far too plain for me once it was on the first card, so I decided to emboss it with the medium-sized snowflake stamp that came with the kit, Versa Mark and silver embossing powder. For the next card, I decided to emboss it with the Curly Cuttlebug embossing plate. I found, though, that the card stock had a white core that broke through in places, so I sponged the piece with CTMH‘s White pigment ink pad to disguise the white showing through the paper and make it appear more winter storm-like. The third piece, I thought I would use a red ink on the swirls, which actually brightened up the paper considerably. I then embossed the last two pieces, sponging one with the white, the other with red.
Frosted card 2

Which of the three variations do you prefer?

Crafty Wednesday – Thank-you & sympathy cards

In addition to creating wedding invitations, in the past couple of week, I’ve made 2 complex Thank-you cards & 4 Sympathy cards for my uncle and cousins. My aunt, who has been suffering with dementia for almost 6 years, passed away last week and her funeral service is on Friday. Today’s post will be short, as it is already late in the day. If anyone wants details, I will be happy to supply a more complete list of what you’d need and how to assemble whichever card(s) you might desire at a later date. Simply request instructions for the card(s) that interest you in the comments section.

you're tweet front

you're tweet inside

you're tweet magnet

Let’s start with the Thank-you cards. They were for the hard working Executive Director & Events Coordinator of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. The design for each of them is similar to one I was working on for my nephew’s wedding invitations with a small pocket on one side in which I placed fridge magnets letting them know how much we appreciate what they’ve done since they started working for the Guild earlier this year. The one above is a bird-themed card, while the one below is bee-themed.

honey front

honey inside

honey magnet

Next are two masculine condolence cards, one portrait-oriented, the other is landscape.

Thinking of you portrait

Thinking of you landscape



Below are two more feminine cards, each with a little bit of bling and paper flowers. The only real differences are the colour & shape of the bling and the colour of the flowers.


Sympathy clear sparkles

sympathy gold sparkles










That’s all for this week. I hope, by next Wednesday, to have a layout for all the wedding invitation ideas I presented to my nephew and his fiance, as well as the design they chose. In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful week! 🙂

Lest We Forget

Last year, on our Canadian Remembrance Day, I talked about my family’s military history and thought I would re-post it, for those of you who might have missed it. As a matter of fact, I was discussing some of the things my Grandfather had done while in the service in WWI, but I couldn’t remember a lot of the details, so this was a bit of a refresher for me, too! Anyway, here is what I wrote last year:

November 11th is the day those of us in Canada, Great Britain and the United States remember the fallen soldiers from wars of the past and present and pay our respects to the veterans who served our countries.

After reading some of Diane Dickson‘s war stories, it got me thinking about my Grandfather who served in World War I and my dad, who completed his cadet training at the military base at Shilo, Manitoba. Here he is in his uniform, just before his 18th birthday, about the time WWII ended, so he was never deployed.

I started digging through some old photos looking for pictures of Grandpa’s military days stationed at Camp Hughes in 1916. Camp Hughes was a training camp in southwestern Manitoba, near the town of Carberry. Many of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces who trained there were later involved in the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. While my grandfather was not among those sent overseas, I am still proud that he served in the best way he knew how.

Here’s a picture of him outside his home before heading out to Camp Hughes. I apologize for the quality of the pictures. They were scanned from very old faded photos.

In front of home on Furby Street

Grandpa at Camp Hughes 1916

This is his unit at Camp Hughes. Grandpa had the photo turned into a postcard but it was never sent.

Here is a postcard that Gramps sent home to his Dad from Camp Hughes dated August 13, 1916. The ‘X’ marks his ‘O.C.’ (Last year, I questioned what the initials stood for but was told they refer to the Officer in Command, which makes sense when you think about it!)

Postcard commemorating the Presentation of Colours to 100th Battalion C.E.F, Camp Hughes, Sept.9th, 1916

New Year’s Greetings from the A.D.D.S. and Officers of Canadian Army Dental Corps M.D. No.10

In case the writing is too faint to read, the above greeting states: “May the New Year Bring a Righteous Victory and a Lasting Peace.” It was dated Winnipeg, 1916-17. Too bad the peace did not last as long as they’d hoped. 😦

While Grandpa was at Camp Hughes, there was a sandstorm that knocked down the tents. Here are a couple of rather faded photos of that event, but you get the idea:

The Sergeant’s Mess Tent, August 28, 1916
(Gramps is on the right below the ‘x’)

Holding up Lab Tent

Grandpa (left) with QMS T. R. Lowres
at C.A.D.C. M.D10 Osborne Barracks, Winnipeg, 1919

He later became the Quartermaster at the Osborne Barracks in Winnipeg, as you can see from the picture above.

Well, there you have it – a little personal history, lest we forget.

In addition to this post from last year, I wanted to mention that we currently have two nephews, who are serving in the Reserves, not to mention those in my husband’s family who have served and are serving. I only hope they never have to see combat in their lifetimes.

What about you? Do you have stories about your military loved ones you’d like to share?

Crafty Wednesday


I was too busy, today,


wedding invitations

for my nephew & his fiance

to create a

Crafty Wednesday


(I’ll post pictures after they’ve had a

chance to pick their favourite.)

Hope you all had a great day!


Having fun with the Manitoba Writers’ Guild

I’ve had a few exciting times related to the Guild over the past few weeks. First, we had our Annual General Meeting where they officially announced my position as one of the VPs and new head of the Resource Development Committee. Apart from the business side of the meeting, we had a lovely luncheon and got to watch the movie In the Wake of the Flood, chronicling Margaret Atwood’s book tour following the launch of Year of the Flood.

Last Friday, two fellow Guild members and I manned a table at the annual SAGE conference for teachers, EAs and library technicians. We got to talk to a lot of people about our writing programs and showed them a small array of books written by local YA authors. It was amazing how few people were aware how many Manitoba writers there really are – and these are teachers and librarians! I have a long list of email addresses where I will send my long list of local YA authors and their books, as well as the local publishers who produce Young Adult fiction. I even sold 5 of my books at the event. Bonus! 🙂


Yesterday, I manned another table for the Writer’s Guild at C4 (Central Canada Comic Con). I had a blast! I loved working with fellow Guild member and poet, Kyla. She was so ‘into’ Dr. Who, so we had lots to chat about when we weren’t talking to writers looking for info about our programming. We also spelled each other off so we could go check out the other vendors. I headed upstairs to Artist Alley where I ran into Samantha Beiko selling her book The Lake and the Library. I missed seeing Chadwick Ginther, author of Thunder Road and his recently launched sequel, Tombstone Blues, which I will be reading and reviewing soon. Walking a little further, up against the far wall, was a huge lineup of stars. Beginning in the order of how they are listed on the website, there was:

Ron Perlman (Beauty & the Beast, Blade II, Pacific Rim) – at least his booth was set up, even if he wasn’t actually there, yet.
Jason David Frank (Power Rangers)
Bill Goldberg (World Champion Wrestler)
James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Smallville, Torchwood)
Tony Amendola (Jaffa master Bra’tac in Stargate)
Aaron Ashmore (Warehouse 13, Smallville, Veronica Mars)
Michael Benyaer (Voice of Bob on Reboot, & guest starred in The Mentalist, 24, Castle, NCIS etc)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5, Tron, Scarecrow & Mrs. King)
Avery Brooks (Commander Sisko on Star Trek Deep Space 9)
Malcolm Denare (John Carpenter’s Christine, Godzilla)
Yaya Han (costume designer, model & cosplay entertainer)
Brendan Hunter (mainly a Voice Actor for many games/cartoons)
Walter Koenig (Chekov on Star Trek, Bester on Babylon 5)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Start Trek Voyager)
Dave Prowse (Darth Vader, although James Earl Jones did the voice)
Chris Sarandon (Princess Bride, Child’s Play, Fright Night)
Laura Vandervoot (Supergirl on Smallville, ‘V’ the most recent series)

When I saw one particular actor there, I hurried downstairs to grab my wallet. With heart all aflutter, I stood in line and stammered out a request to get his autograph. Bruce Boxleitner was as personable as I hoped he would be. I hemmed and hawed about which photo I wanted him to autograph but finally chose his Babylon 5 pose. He has aged quite gracefully and his dimpled smile made me blush. I really should have splurged, paid the extra $10, and got my photo taken with him, but what a fangirl moment! 😀

Photo 17

Another great moment was when one young attendee came up to me when she saw my books displayed. She said she’d read Whithershins and loved it! She even dragged over a friend and told her about it! I was thrilled that she’d read it, liked it and was recommending it to others. 🙂

The folks at the table next to us were flogging their horror film, Dark4Rest, filmed here in Manitoba with local-grown actors, director, etc. so I bought one of their calendars to help them out, even though I’m not really a horror fan. That shouldn’t stop you from checking out their website. They even have a Dark4Rest ‘teaser’.

There was also a local company with a working 3-D printer, which was really cool. Both Kyla and I were escorted over to their table and shown what their company could do. The most fascinating article on the table that was made with the printer was a miniature replica of our tour guide’s head! Apparently, Asset-Works offers tours of their facility every Tuesday. They are a non-profit workshop providing access to fabrication equipment, support and knowledge for entrepreneurs.

At the end of the day, and in keeping with the theme of our day, I bought two pairs of Dr. Who socks from a vender around the corner from our table. The black pair had a T.A.R.D.I.S. on them, the grey pair had red Daleks. They are a little big in the foot part and the stitching of the designs makes them a bit tight in the rise. Oh, well, I will wear them anyway!

C4 is on again tomorrow, for those in town who want to check out all the fun. If you aren’t able to go in person, there are (and probably will be) more pictures of our wonderful Guild volunteers and members on our Facebook page. Click here to see all the shenanigans. 🙂

Friday Review – Life Sucks by Donna Sutherland


Throughout the ages, mothers and daughters usually hit a period of disagreement during the girl’s teen years. I remember heated arguments with my mother and also with my teenaged daughter. Fortunately, none of them escalated to the point of physical violence. The period passed and, upon becoming a woman, we became friends again. I think that was mainly because we kept the lines of communication open, unlike the characters in Donna Sutherland’s book.

In the story, Life Sucks, a mother (Emma) and her daughter (Lindsay) cannot seem to agree on anything. Lindsay seems bent on punishing her mom, believing she is the source of all her troubles, like her Dad leaving, trouble at school, and her friends deserting her. Emma is hurt and confused by her daughter’s anger, but when push comes to shove, literally, Emma knows they will need outside help to heal their relationship. That help comes, not from the sterile environment of a psychologist’s office, but the friend of Mary, a new worker in Emma’s office. Through Mary, Emma meets Martha, a local medicine woman who assists them in discovering the source of their deep-seated self-loathing and anger. Together, Mother and Daughter learn the Seven Sacred Teachings and begin their journey along the Red Road.

I’m sure that every mother or daughter who reads Life Sucks will appreciate the anguish in this broken family and will learn some valuable lessons about how to treat other people and how to heal themselves, just like Emma and Lindsay did. The story provides insight into the Native teachings that I think every person can take to heart. They are simple, common sense tools to help a body and mind work in harmony to become the best person one can be. 

Book Blurb:

Lindsay McKay is a 14-year-old girl on the cusp of womanhood struggling to understand life and her place in it. Her struggle with identity – what she sees on the outside is not in sync with the spirit within. She journeys with her mother, Emma, through conflict and challenge to truth and love. Together they find answers to their questions through the grace and wisdom of Martha, a powerful Cree Medicine Woman who introduces them to the Seven Sacred Teachings of the ancient Cree.

About the Author:

Donna Gail Sutherland was born in Selkirk, Manitoba to an Irish-English-Danish mother and a Scottish-Cree father. She is the author of three historical works – Peguis: A Noble Friend, Nahoway: A Distant Voice, and Concealment of Childbirth, and a soon-to-be released children’s picture book. Little Chip. She lives north of Winnipeg, Manitoba in the lovely woods of Clandeboye, a charming village with an Irish name.

To learn more about Donna and her books, click on the book cover above. It will link you to her website.

I was fortunate enough to meet Donna when she invited me to speak at the Public Library in Selkirk, a few weeks ago. I read from Withershins and talked about the historical setting of my books. Afterwards, Donna and I had a lovely chat over coffee. She is a truly remarkable woman, who is very connected to her ancestors and has a lot to teach us. Learning about our past is one way of learning the truth about ourselves. Knowing the truth about ourselves gives us strength and helps us move forward with our lives. It also helps in our relationships with others, treating them with respect and compassion.